Get to know Julie Johnson, Ripon’s first female athletic director
By Stefani Zeiger
Athletic Director Julie Johnson had to persevere through hard times to become a strong leader. Her childhood home, a farm, blew up with both her parents inside; luckily, they both survived. It was this major life event that caused her family’s move into town and away from farm life.
Although Johnson faced this life-changing event as a child, she overcame this tragedy and used it to remain humble.
As an athletic director, Johnson’s proudest accomplishments exemplify her humble nature, being that they regard the success of others.
“I’ve always been proud of our coaching staff and what they accomplish year to year,” Johnson said. “[I’m also proud of] our student athletes overall. It’s been a lot of fun to watch student athletes grow from freshmen to seniors and then being able to make that connection now as the athletic director now when they come back as alumni.”
Johnson also adds, “I use the hashtag #ProudAD when I tweet a lot; it speaks volumes even if it’s a little thing to the environment and culture we have here at the athletic department.”
Johnson did not grow up wanting to be a college athletic director, however she is proud to hold this position. She is proud to be Ripon’s first female athletic director, but this is not all the job means for her.
“I take it as a title that I’ve worked for and enjoy doing, and try and represent and be a good role model for females,” Johnson said. “It doesn’t change my thought process or goals I have for the department.”
Johnson believes that being hired after already coaching and teaching at Ripon made for a smoother transition. Through this, she knew the systems already in place and many of the people here.
Going into the department, Johnson did not want assumptions that she would be unwilling to make changes because of being hired from within Ripon.
“I didn’t want the normal status quo,” Johnson said. “If I was going to take the job, there was going to be changes.”
A major change is the Willmore Center. Johnson believes this building makes a huge difference with campus and the community.
“It’s something we need to remind ourselves of with continually improving our campus,” Johnson said.
Johnson added that despite the size of this project, Ripon needs to makes yearly changes.
“Every year to see something change on this campus is important for the growth of our enrollment, professional development, [for] anyone who works on this campus, to improving the Ripon community,” Johnson said.
Johnson added that project size may vary year to year, but it’s important for some change to occur.
Johnson, as well as others in the department, put in long hours to improve Ripon. Outside of the job, Johnson enjoys quiet relaxation.
“You’re around people a lot so there’s always communication going on,” Johnson said. “[It’s nice to] get away, have some downtime and refresh by spending time with the family.”
Johnson adds that the nine months spent working get hectic, so she also enjoys trying to have a social life outside of work.
Johnson spends a lot of time working to improve Ripon by looking for what needs change. She understands that this may not happen right away, but it needs to be worked toward.
“Growth takes time and there’s steps involved,” Johnson said. “Sometimes it’s hard to be patient for those things to occur but every step up, you’re getting closer to that goal.”
Johnson worked hard and persevered to be successful without rushing it. By being patient, Johnson, as well as Ripon itself, can continue growth and betterment.